POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Contemporary Apologetic Aims and Methods

I need to confess something that many of you already realize.  I began a substantial series of posts a little while back...well, maybe a long while...on the new atheism which has been spewed of late by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and punk rocker and PhD Greg Gaffin.

You can see the beginnings of that here.  I just have not had the time to focus on this with all that has been happening in life.  Leading Inversion, having three little kids, wanting to date my wife, seminary studies/writing, writing for our people at Inversion, planting a church, raising money, doing some speaking etc.  Blogging on atheism has been slow coming and to be honest I don't loose any sleep about it these days. 

What I did want to revisit is the focus of contemporary apologetics.  Now I think there are several areas of the discipline which need focus, research, publication etc.  The following are just a few and the reasons why I feel they are important:

  • The existence of God - there are academic skeptics and anti theists which are publishing today with some very weak argumentation, but broad popular appeal - this is a wall we must stay on.
  • The historical Jesus and the related New Testament witness to Jesus - with the new emphasis in Gnostic gospels and the early church, the identity of the New Testament Jesus is very important.  The gospels as reliable though theologically motivated (even biased) texts is very important
  • The Problem of evil - we live outside of the garden, in the midst of sin, death, disease and pain.  This has always been the case for humanity from very early on, but we seem to expect something different.  The relationship of God to suffering is an issue of both theological and apologetic significance
  • Miracles - particularly the resurrection of Jesus
  • Philosophical naturalism and attendant secularism.  This permeates much of western culture and our history from the 17th century onward...

These are all classic topics for the apologist must handle and great work has been done in all these areas.  This past week I was in Blacksburg, VA and heard two wonderful apologists speak to the issues of the heart and mind commending Jesus and contrasting him with other worldviews.  I felt the presentations were excellent focusing appropriately on naturalism as they were speaking to a university community.  

Overall however, I am a bit concerned that more focus must be given to engaging a culture which is much more spiritual and eclectic...building spiritual answers in the vacuum left by secularism. Today some of the issues we need to be engaging with need to be treated along with the topics above:

  • The relationship between Jesus and other religions
  • Why building your own spirituality is not wise 
  • Why coherence even matters - if you can have contentment with an incoherent and false worldview...many simply choose to be happy
  • We must locate truth in the biblical narrative of creation, fall, redemption, restoration.  We cannot simply call people to "truth" we must call people to the one who is the Truth.
  • How does Christian faith and changing scientific paradigms relate - biotech, computer technology, AI, etc.
  • Christian faith is associated with oppression in many people's minds.  How do we engage those who thing colonialism, imperialism, etc are the fruits of "Christianity"
Simply fighting the atheist boogie man may just distract us from mission - presenting Jesus and the good news to those who view spirituality as good, but religion (and the Christian flavor of it) as bad.  If we are perceived as just fighting philosophical battles with others we may loose track of the real war.  Apologetics must treat the issues and objections of people in culture, not simply the philosophical skirmishes which the apologist may enjoys.